The tradition of Xmas violence

ln most instances, and in years gone by, violence was invariably always part and parcel of Christmas.

The Christmas tradition was that residents from sorrounding villages would congregate at Tongogara Growth Point to dance to music and drink hard liqour and cavort with their lovers, and also show off their new Christmas clothes.

They would flock from as far afield as Muguzumbi and Tubugare, they would troop down to Tongogara from Chivi and Nyoka village, which is also called Munyimani. Hananda, Poshayi, Mazioni and Mhene villagers also never missed Christmas at Tongogara. Others trudged from Manjobo, Tumba and Mvura villages to be counted among the attendees. The western villages of Mapfumo, Gonye, Kombora and Mawere could not be outdone, everyone descended on Tongogara on Christmas day, and everyone convened at Tongogara for the purpose aforedescribed.


This was Christmas in the village, forget about the birth of Christ.

Old grudges were never forgot, and always came to the fore. lf, for example, the villagers of Mapfumo were defeated in a fight by Shiri village folk at the previous Christmas celebration, be rest assured that the Mapfumo village crew would be seeking vengeance against Shiri villagers at the next Christmas grouping.

The cause of the fights ranged from petty recent rivalries to serious family feuds, causes ranged from a desire to avenge a defeat from a previous beerhall brawl to accusations based on beliefs in wizardry and withcraft, and the cause of Tongogara Christmas wars also ranged from courtship conflicts by rival suitors to grazing land grudges of neighbouring villages.

All scores, all conflicts and all disputes, whatever they were, whatever their cause, were settled at Tongogara on Christmas day.

Through physical violence.

And sometimes things would turn really really ugly during these ferocious feuds. Heads would be bashed by flying rocks, human flesh would be ripped open by okapi knives, faces would be disfigured and distorted by flying fists, blood would gush, blood would flow, dark red human blood tinged with the nauseating stench of senseless violence.

A rag tag outfit which went by the name “Rastas Way” had recently set up shop at Tongogara Growth Point. They sold groceries like everybody else, but what made them stand apart was that they professed adherence to the Rastafarian religion.

They sold and smoked weed, and if you befriended them, they became a generous lot and would allow you to share and smoke with them the dagga which they woud have reserved for themselves. They had plenty of it.

They were generally peace loving gentlemen, but one of them was an antithesis of their amiable humility.

As opposed to the down to earth demeanour of the rest, the misfit among the Rastafarians was a gentleman who was self conscious of his urban breeding, and was very much aware of the superiority of the streetwise urban folk as opposed to the rural dullards of Tongogara.

And he lived the part.

He dressed better than everyone else. He defeated everyone at every pass time game available, be it flipper, darts, slug or draught.

He had a fast derogatory wit, and perfected his karate moves whilst clad in the white regalia of the black belt champion, in full view of members of the rural folk who cheered him in open admiration.

He called himself a human killing machine.

He drank, he gambled, he seduced women, he beat up opponents with practised ease.

He strolled around Tongogara with a hat perched on his head at a rakish angle and always wore shiny pointed shoes, a typical outlaw hero in a Western movie.

We will therefore call him “Renegade.”

There was already talk that Renegade was the new champion of Tongogara, and that even Tongogara’s legendary fighters like Stern Kandhlera, Jerry Magwegwe or Brighton Hwami stood no chance against him.

But none of Tongogara’s legendary fighters made any attempt to disprove these rumours.

Renegade’s claim to the throne became undisputed.

An elderly gentleman who lived in Mapfumo Village had a weakness for gambling. He was an ordinary man who hunted in the forest and tilled the land and tended cattle and drank beer whenever he could, but kept to himself most of the time.

lf you didnt know about his gambling, you’d think he was a saint.

We will therefore call him “The Decent Crook.”

So The Decent Crook strolled to Tongogara Growth Point on Christmas day to while up time and try his luck at cards.

The gamblers of Tongogara chose a place behind the Growth Point among the rock boulders as one walks towards Tongogara High School. This was a perfect spot for their gambling school. lt was safe from the police.

The Decent Crook walked straight to the gambling school. Renegade was there among the gamblers, and as usual, Renegade was neatly turned out in a jacket and matching tie, with the rakish hat perched cockily on his head.

There was a disagreement at the gambling school over who had won a betting round, and to resolve the ensuing chaos, Renegade grabbed all the bets which had been placed and shoved the money into his pocket, and belligerently stood aloof.

lt was an open declaration of war.

Everyone stopped in their tracks. An instant decision had to be made by every gambler present; whether or not to confront Renegade. lt was a choice to be made with great care. After all Renegade was a human killing machine, after all no one at Tongogara dared confront the kung fu king. Renegade ruled the roost.

Almost simulteneously, all the gamblers capitulated and imperceptibly returned to their gambling, setting new rules, counting their losses, leaving Renegade well alone.

But a scrawny fellow took measured strides towards Renegade and demanded the return of the $2 bet which he had placed.

lt was The Decent Crook.

Everyone was shocked. ln gambling circles, you dont challenge the reigning champion unless you are ready to die.

And the fight started instantly.

lt was an unequal match. The odds were unfair, the results predictable. Why had The Decent Crook decided to throw himself into the lions’ den to be devoured?

A brutal heel kick plunged into the belly of The Decent Crook, and he clutched his stomach with both hands as he doubled over in agony, and thereby exposed his face to the enemy.

A flurry of blows damaged ànd destroyed his face, but The Decent Crook continued to stagger forward blindly, searching for his opponent with outstretched hands.

The Decent Crook dived headlong and plunged his left shoulder into Renegade’s abdomen. Both protagonists toppled over and crashed to the ground, one on top of the other.

The Decent Crook capitalised on his advantage and hit Renegade in the face repeatedly with clenched fists, drawing blood.

There was a roar of applause from the gamblers, it attracted the Christmas crowd from Tongogara Growth Point to the scene of the fight.

Renegade thrust his hips upwards and dislodged The Decent Crook from his belly. Both men sprang to their feet and stood facing each other.

lt was now a battle of superior skill versus raw rural rage.

lt was a contest of inborn instict versus knowledge imparted and acquired from training.

The Decent Crook remained stock still, watching his opponent with fierce concentration, the way he waited for a cornered animal to make the first move during a perilous hunt.

And Renegade attacked first. He flew in with a barrage of kicks and punches. The Decent Crook ducked and swerved and avoided all blows with the inborn mastery of the forest hunter.

There was another round of applause from the crowd of onlookers.

This infuriated Renegade eve more.

He spun around wildly, and snatched a knobkerrie from someone in the crowd and charged at The Decent Crook, knobkerrie in hand.

The Decent Crook looked intently at the knobkerrie in Renegade’s hand as if nothing else in the world existed. He himself strode carefully towards Renegade, the way a trapped warthog charges directly at anything in front of it, totally without fear.

Renegade lost his nerve, he swung the knobkerrie at The Decent Crook several times, and each time The Decent Crook either ducked under it or swerved sideways and backwards, away from the reach of the timid swing of the knobkerrie, and charged at Renegade.

Panick and fear registered on Renegade’s face. He threw away the knobkerrie, spun around, and fled, with The Decent Crook hot on his heels.

The crowd went into a frenzy, and jeered and cheered as the renegade Rastafarian was run out of town, and to this day, has never been seen at Tongogara again.

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